History & Mission

Darlington Arts Center

Darlington Arts Center is established as a nonprofit organization. It strives to serve the cultural needs of a diverse community by providing a school and outreach programs for the visual and performing arts. The Center is a valuable resource for promoting the enjoyment and understanding of the arts for people of all ages as expressed in music, art, dance, and drama.

The Art Center is diverse in its offerings. By embracing the visual and performing arts, Darlington provides an environment where family members may explore and enroll in multiple classes or lessons in music, art, dance, or drama at one location.

Original Darlington Building

The original home of Darlington Arts Center.

The Darlington Arts Center was founded and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1978 by Diana Sophocles Hemmenway based on a unique vision: to include all four arts disciplines – music, visual arts, dance, and drama – in one facility with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary programming. In fact, Darlington was the first community arts center in the state of Pennsylvania to offer the four arts under one roof. For 30 years, the programming possibilities and opportunities have been extensive and innovative. Twenty years ago, Darlington pioneered the concept of a preschool arts program for 3-5 year-olds which includes classes in all four arts taught by four teaching arts specialists. The summer arts camp soon followed the same model for children ages 5 – 12 offered 5 days a week throughout the summer.

Darlington began in an historic farmhouse which sits on a William Penn land grant on old Baltimore Pike in Wawa, PA. With the vision and mission firmly set, Diana started small with 5 music teachers and 35 students. Because her training was in music, having completed degrees from Oberlin College and Boston University before returning to Delaware County, Darlington began with music soon adding the 3 other arts to complement and enhance the curriculum.

Future Darlington Arts Center - sketch by Karl J. Kuerner

Artists sketch of new Darlington facility by Karl J. Kuerner. Phase 1 (the right half) is complete.

In 1996 with a student enrollment of 500, Diana and the Board of Directors decided it was time to move. The farmhouse had become inadequate, limiting programming growth. Consequently, the location had become unsuitable. After looking at over 20 old properties with the Board President William K. Davis, the Board decided, with advice from Arts Space Collaborative, to build a new arts center that would accommodate all the needs of the organization. Construction was made possible through the generosity of the Gilman Development Company which donated to Darlington in 1997 five beautiful acres of land in Concord Township. With conditional use approval from the Township to build on open space, Darlington began the Campaign for Darlington: Working in Concert. In June of 2002, Darlington opened its doors in its new state-of-the-art facility. Phase 1 has been completed and Darlington now has 10 soundproof music studios; a large dance/performance space with stage lighting and a sound system;  two art studios filled with natural light (a ceramics studio and painting studio); and gallery space throughout the building.

In 2009, after 30 years, Diana Sophocles Hemmenway retired and turned the reins over to Angela Scully.  Susan Nicodemus Quinn served as Executive Director from 2011-2017.  In the spring of 2017, Eric Carter-Thompson was appointed to the position of Executive Director.